“In the end we will conserve only what we love; we will love only what we understand; and we will understand only what we have been taught. ” – Baba Dioum
Stories normalize the strange and explain the confounding. Our relationship with the environment is in a state of constant flux, and as an environmental education center, we are always updating how and what we teach about the natural world. As our ways of seeing the world develop, the stories we believe in evolve and expand. Our relationship to our stories is tenuous, however, since they can sometimes oversimplify the reality of nature’s complexities. Historically, we relied on scientific facts until they become obsolete, transforming themselves into fables. What was once believed without question now sounds laughable (the Earth as flat, the medicinal use of leeches, to name a few ). Regardless, we will always need stories because they help make sense of the world we inhabit.
This exhibition, “Facts and Fables: Stories of the Natural World,” asks important questions about the human experience of the environment: How do stories affect our understanding of nature? What is true nature and what is fabricated, and how can we tell the difference? Is our experience of nature limited by our ability to sense the world around us?
The seven artists in “Facts and Fables” use diverse methods to address such questions: memorials, guidebooks, faux landscapes, fairy tale crime scenes, live video feeds, visual perception tracking, distortion of scale, predictions and invitations. Some artists tell stories, while others examine the ways stories are created, or retell old stories to unearth new ideas. These artists combine out-dated methods with innovative technology, offering the viewer a range of experience and ways to interact with the natural world.
For example, Chad Curtis incorporates green technology into his installation, “Mother Nature” (pictured), through the use of a solar-powered video camera that generates a 24/7 live stream, available online here: http://chaddcurtis.com/schuylkill/.
–Jenny Laden, Director of The Environmental Art Department at The Schuylkill Center“Facts and Fables: Stories of the Natural World” (June 25- Oct. 29) is an environmentally-focused, large-scale outdoor installation exhibit featuring seven artists: Jeremy Beaudry, Brian Collier, Chad Curtis, Blane de St. Croix, David Dempewolf, Susan Hagen, and Jeanne Jaffe. Please join us for the opening reception and an exclusive tour of the installations with the curator and artists on Saturday, June 25th 4pm-7pm. 215-482-7300 | [email protected] | 8480 Hagy’s Mill Rd. Phila, PA 19128